United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen. The UN chief said that the ceasefire can help to advance efforts towards peace as well as the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guterres called upon the Government of Yemen and Houthis to follow through on their commitment to immediate cessation of hostilities. He also urged both parties to engage with each other in “good faith and without preconditions” in the negotiations facilitated by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.
“Only through dialogue will the parties be able to agree on a mechanism for sustaining a nation-wide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic confidence-building measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the resumption of the political process to reach a comprehensive settlement to end the conflict,” said the UN chief in a statement.
On April 8, Saudi officials said that the decision for a ceasefire was taken in response to UN call for a global ceasefire amid coronavirus pandemic. According to the officials, the ceasefire will be for two weeks starting Thursday, April 9, during which Saudi Arabia will help the UN bring rival parties together for peace talks.
Last month, Guterres made an appeal for an immediate global ceasefire fearing a collapse of health systems in war-ravaged countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the world is facing a common enemy in COVID-19 and urged everyone to put the “armed conflict on lockdown” and focus together on the true fight of our lives.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in the conflict on request of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and the continued fighting has caused disproportionate suffering for the civilians. An Amnesty International report said that more than 4.5 million people with disabilities in Yemen have been the worst hit due to the ongoing armed conflict between Houthi rebels and a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
(Image Credit: AP)